Nigel Farage has announced that he is standing down as leader of Reform UK and is quitting party politics altogether. Well, sort of. He will hand over control of Reform to Richard Tice, but says he is open to an honorary position in the party. Is Farage retiring? "Oh no, goodness gracious me, no" he says in a video posted to his social media accounts (see below).
Farage's social media presence has gone from strength to strength in the last twelve months, in particular thanks to his exposés on migrant boats crossing the Channel. He has clearly found that building such a huge following was relatively easy in comparison to the daily stresses of running a political party. That may be the main factor in his decision, but unlikely to be the only one.
Reform UK without Farage - and certainly with the flappable and far inferior Tice in charge - is now on its arse. Perhaps it was always flogging a dead horse anyway, it just took Nigel a few months to work that out.
The decision to rebrand was a mistake. In three years time people may recognise the sky blue logo, but they won't know the name. The media aren't going to give Reform UK a platform and with Farage out of the picture they are going to drop further into obscurity. The name change was not necessary and at least with the Brexit Party there was name recognition. The name Reform was also incredibly close to Reclaim, the party of actor-turned-politician Laurence Fox.
In the years to come it's likely that Reclaim will become the conservative/libertarian anti-lockdown party of note and if Labour are to be kept at bay, it's vital that there is a prominent right-wing party for working class voters to flock to. The big Tory victories of 2015 and 2019 largely came about because of Labour voters switching to Farage's party (UKIP in 2015, Brexit Party in 2019). If there is no such parry in 2024, especially if the economy lies in ruins - Starmer may yet sneak into power.